The wonky indie grin of Working Men’s Club‘s 2019 debut single ‘Bad Blood’ saw the Yorkshire band blend the excitable bark of early Foals with the moody blues of post-punk legends The Fall. It was no wonder, then, that the band were quickly celebrated alongside the likes of Fontaines D.C. and The Murder Capital as The Next Big Thing™.
But Working Men’s Club made it very clear just as quickly that they didn’t want to just follow in the path of anyone else. “The reason there aren’t as many popular guitar bands right now is because they keep reproducing the same shit,” vocalist Sydney Minsky-Sargeant told NME last year when asked about the state of the scene. “No one should be surprised it’s dying.”
Since then his band have done everything in their power to fuck with people’s expectations. A handful of singles — the hypnotic, down-the-rabbit-hole escape of ‘Teeth’, the glam sci-fi thrust of ‘White Rooms and People’ and the stomping menace of ‘A.A.A.A.’ — have seen Working Men’s Club veer into different worlds with a smirking confidence, but it’s their live show that really shows off the band’s true, chaotic colours.
Rather than wait around for the world to get back to normal in order to continue their march into the daring unknown, Working Men’s Club instead utilised the empty surroundings of Manchester’s YES venue for a special livestreamed gig on Friday night (July 3). With multiple cameras on hand documenting and beaming the show to fans across the world, the band’s full-throttle nine-song set comes across as a joyful shock to the system — a sensation that this gang are very capable of creating.
The opening celebration of ‘Valleys’ shifts between Blur and The Chemical Brothers, full of scrappy, snarling fight and a hedonistic desire for a good time, while ‘Bad Blood’’s infectious guitar-led march is even more captivating through Minsky-Sargeant’s spat lyrical delivery. The anti-radio anthem ‘Cook A Coffee’, all bouncing new wave solos and yelped vocals, dials up the carnage while ‘John Cooper Clarke’ starts like a chirping merry-go-round and ends in a fuzzy whirr of destruction. “We play and we fight, we live and we die,” sings Minsky-Sargeant, vocalising their reckless abandon.
Elsewhere, ‘Be My Guest’ is full of stuttering confidence as the band toy with space before letting lose a three-pronged guitar solo, while the mind-bending groove of ‘Angel’ tries to hide a huge, U2-esque chorus ahead of it spiralling into a thrashing instrumental breakdown that just keeps going and going; the band having way too much fun to stop.
There’s no time to scrape yourself up from the floor, though, as Working Men’s Club bound straight into the robotic funk of closer ‘Teeth’ and its all-gnashing fury and millennial uncertainty. “Everything‘s a myth, don’t know what you believe,” Minsky-Sargeant barks as the set comes to a close. He then proceeds to tear the head off of a cardboard cut-out of The Queen and toss it aside before proudly holding up a t-shirt that bears the word “Socialism”, all while grinning down the camera lens.
Innovative, entertaining and full of wondrous surprises and hair-raising risks, there’s no one quite like Working Men’s Club – even on a livestream.
Working Men’s Club played: